In the healthcare world, improving quality of care and optimizing patient outcomes is paramount. Clinical leaders are thus regularly seeking out tools to help their respective organizations achieve success.  The TeamSTEPPS curriculum, a teamwork-focused, evidence-based system used to improve communication and teamwork skills among health care professionals, is one respected tool being implemented by hospitals and health systems nationwide.  Although TeamSTEPPS is a valuable tool on its own, healthcare leaders now realize that combining TeamSTEPPS with Lean Six Sigma Training provides an even greater resource for providers.

At the recent TeamSTEPPS National Conference in Denver, Colorado, over 800 clinical leaders from across the country gathered to discuss teamwork, quality of care, and patient safety. In addition to reviewing TeamSTEPPS principles, attendees were introduced to the idea of marrying TeamSTEPPS with Lean Six Sigma in order to build the most effective teams and achieve the best possible outcomes.

A packed workshop session utilized group activities to demonstrate the importance of Lean principles including the five S’s (sort-systematize-sweep/shine-standardize-sustain) and PDCA (plan-do-check-act).  Participants learned how to tailor Lean Six Sigma methods to the healthcare setting and were able to see firsthand how quality methodologies complement the teamwork strategies taught in the TeamSTEPPS curriculum.

“The methodology of quality combined with the methodology of TeamSTEPPS is absolutely attainable.  The two very clearly support each other,” said workshop participant Lori Scanlan-Hanson, a registered nurse and quality specialist at the Mayo Clinic.  She was excited to see Lean Six Sigma being taught at the TeamSTEPPS conference, explaining that the two systems share similar philosophies and can be combined to create an environment that fosters trust and safety.  “I think the way to go is to just integrate the two,” she said.

Using TeamSTEPPS to build effective teams and Lean Six Sigma to improve quality, hospitals and health systems can equip providers with powerful tools that truly make a difference in the patient experience.

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